GJU Radio Broadcast February 11, 2015
“My brotha, I don’t intend to give up. I will continue to promote the New Afrikan Independence Movement and the Republic of New Afrika via New Afrikan Revolutionary Nationalism (NARN). I will continue to coordinate the GJU as well as the BAMCC. I will not allow these racist pigs to criminalize our movement or our political activities, especially Black August!” – Abdul Olugbala Shakur, in a letter to a friend (GJU is the George Jackson University; BAMCC stands for Black August Memorial Commemoration Committee.)
There is a trick that the California prison administration (hereafter “Admin”) pulls on African Americans in prison. It is to charge them with gang activity if they refer to “George Jackson” or any of his writings or ideas or to the “Republic of New Afrika” or the politics of New Afrikans.
Any such reference will be interpreted to mean one is a member of a group called the Black Guerrilla Family (BGF) and thus guilty of promoting gang activity. Thousands of people, mostly Black and Brown, have been held in solitary confinement (Security Housing Unit, or SHU) for years and even decades, because “gang activity” constitutes a “security threat to the prison,” according to the Admin.
Yet even prisoners held in solitary can be brought up on charges of “gang activity,” which is hard to imagine. Four times in the course of a single year, Abdul Olugbala Shakur, a long-timer in Pelican Bay, has been so charged for letters to friends on the outside. Each time, he was convicted of gang activity and his solitary confinement extended. I recently obtained access to the write-ups of those various hearings, called “Rules Violation Reports.” In them, one sees a species of witchhunt in modern form.
Each of these reports follows the same procedure. An officer who had read Shakur’s personal mail charges him for making reference to New Afrikan ideas and activity. Because Shakur is a so-called “validated” gang member (an administrative procedure from which there is no appeal), his political references are considered links to the BGF.
These reports then list various bureaucratic procedures preliminary to a hearing, stating how the defendant pleads and stating whether he wants a witness or not. Shakur pleads “not guilty” in each case and, in each case, his request for a witness is denied.
Each report ends with an account of the hearing. It consists of a “finding” – of guilty in each case – and a summary of the evidence provided by an investigating officer. That evidence repeats the original report about Shakur’s mail and provides a “synopsis” of the letter intercepted.
These “synopses” refer in part to Shakur’s statements and in part to what the officer thinks Shakur means. Thus, the real evidence against Shakur is what the officer thinks. The conclusion that Shakur is involved in gang activity is foregone.
It is all quite routine. However, the testimony against Shakur is interesting and bears some analysis.Even prisoners held in solitary can be brought up on charges of “gang activity,” which is hard to imagine. Four times in the course of a single year, Abdul Olugbala Shakur, a long-timer in Pelican Bay, has been so charged for letters to friends on the outside. Each time, he was convicted of gang activity and his solitary confinement extended.
First, a little background. There is a special committee called the Institutional Gang Investigators (IGI) whose job is to read the prisoners’ mail. In 2010, Shakur had filed a suit against the Admin and the IGI – a case heard by Judge Seeborg in San Francisco – for having intercepted his mail in violation of federal law as well as of his civil and constitutional rights.
He “won” this suit insofar as the Admin was directed to no longer block delivery of mail nor prevent Shakur from receiving personal mail from outside. This has not stopped the Admin from doing so, however, nor from charging Shakur for what he says in these personal letters.
Two glaring absences “appear” in these reports. The first is the source for proclaiming Shakur a gang member. The second is any proof that the BGF exists as an organization. This doesn’t mean it doesn’t, but its existence has to be more than an administrative proclamation, if the torture of solitary confinement can be the outcome for the defendant.
The Admin cites no documentary evidence for either claim. Though Shakur contradicts the officer’s bland assertions, it is in vain. Shakur’s references to ideas remain associated with a “security threat,” while all aspects of organizational existence, such as rules, purposes, and membership functions exist only in the officer’s claims, without foundation. In other words, the Admin pretends that whatever it says is fact. And that introduces the logic of what is happening here...
"With each attempt the pigs made on my life in San Quentin, I
would send an SOS out to my family. They would always respond by
listening and writing letters to the joint pigs and Sacramento rats, but
they didn't entirely accept that I was telling them the truth about the
pig mentality. I would get dubious stares when I told them the
lieutenants and the others who propositioned some of the most vicious
white convicts in the state: "Kill Jackson, we'll do you some good." You
understand, my father wanted to know why. And all I could tell him was
that I related to Mao and couldn't kowtow. His mind couldn't deal with
it. I would use every device, every historical and current example I
could reach to explain to him that there were no-good pigs. But the task
was too big, I was fighting his mind first, and his fear of admitting
the existence of an identifiable enemy element that was oppressing us
because that would either commit him to attack that enemy or force him
to admit his cowardice. I was also fighting the establishment's public
relations and propaganda machine. The prisons all use the clean,
straight faces, or the old, harmless-looking pigs to work in areas where
they must come in contact with free people. And these pigs are never
allowed to use their tusks. Regarding the racism, my father would remind
me that there were black pigs too. But, of course, that means nothing
at all. They simply work around the blacks when necessary. One guard or
two guards working together is all that's needed to murder any con in
the joint. But it isn't really necessary to work around the black pigs.
They'll all cooperate or turn their heads.
The black cop could be a large factor in preventing our genocide. But no help can be expected from that quarter. The same stupidity and desperation that brought him to the gates prevents him from interceding. The job, the wage means too much to him. Often he feels compelled to prove himself, prove that he is loyal to the force, prove that he is not prejudiced in favor of us, prove that he is honest. His honesty prevents him from dealing in contraband as every white pig does. Look, I was in San Quentin for seven straight years. I knew everything that was brought in and by whom. The white pig actually considers it his privilege to supplement his income by bringing in and selling narcotics, weapons, and, of course, pornography. The black pig is afraid, too unsure of his position to be dishonest.
This same fear will cause him to show more zeal in the "club therapy" sessions than even the whites manage. If the victim is black, he's going to get so mad that the white pigs will have to stand back and let him swing. If they don't have murder planned for that session, they'll have to pull that nigger off of you. A pig — is a pig.
It all falls into place. I see the whole thing much clearer now, how fascism has taken possession of this country. the interlocking dictatorship from country level on up to the Grand Dragon in Washington, D.C.
The solidarity between the prison here and the court in Salinas, between the judge and grand jury, the judge and the D.A. and other city officials. The institution has effectively cut me off from any relief. The unmeek have taken over this whole county, the state, the entire country. They work together, to the same end, effective control.
I knew of these links before this, long before this, but seeing it in operation is pretty frightening. What force binds them together? I'm referring to the intermediary, the physical thing, not the ideal. What is it that really ties that fat rat with a chain of department stores to a uniformed pig? The fat rat wants the country and world policed, made safe for his business to expand. But how does he sell the ideal to the man who must do the policing? Money is the bond I think. They're in it for the money, these pigs and skinny rats. The fascist ideal doesn't really take hold until one gets into the upper levels of the power pyramid. Then any ideal that preserves becomes attractive.
People's government would decentralize this power that they hold over us — these men must be stopped."
Power to the People.